Each day, over 4,000 people lose their lives to tuberculosis (TB) and another 30,000 become afflicted with this preventable, curable disease. Many inroads have been made since 2000, with an estimated 58 million lives saved thanks to global efforts to combat TB. However, TB remains the ninth leading cause of death worldwide and is the world’s deadliest infectious disease, outranking HIV and AIDS. Twenty-five percent of deaths from TB occur in Africa.
Today, March 24, is World Tuberculosis Day – a day to raise awareness of and step up efforts against the global TB pandemic.
March 24 marks the date in 1882 that Dr. Robert Koch, one of the founders of modern bacteriology, announced that he had discovered the bacterium that causes TB. This discovery led to the diagnosis and development of the bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine by Albert Calmette and Camille Guérin in 1906.
In September 2018, heads of state came together to commit to ending TB in the first United Nations High-Level Meeting (UNHLM) in the hopes of accelerating the TB response worldwide and saving lives. Tuberculosis is extremely common, with one quarter of the world’s population estimated to be infected. Most of these infections do not have symptoms; this is called latent tuberculosis. However, about 10% of latent infections can become active, which, left untreated, can be deadly.
The UNHLM set the target of providing 30 million people with preventative treatment between 2018 and 2022. Prevention is key to ending TB by 2030 and meeting SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages.
This year’s theme is It’s Time: it’s time to scale up access to prevention and treatment; it’s time to ensure sufficient and sustainable financing for TB, including for research and development; it’s time to promote a rights-based and people-centred TB response; it’s time to put an end to TB stigma and discrimination; it’s time to build accountability – it’s time to end TB!
At Right By Her, we stand by her right to health, education, and contraception, and to live free from violence and harm. You can learn more about TB on the DSW website and what it means to commemorate World TB Day 2020 in the midst of the fight against another pandemic.